The greatest pride I have in my life is being a mother. Whenever I think about what it is that embodies my forever journey as a spirit in existence. It always boils down to motherhood. Was I on this path before becoming “MOMMY!!!!”….? Of course. Every experience, exposure, and mistake has cultivated me into the individual I am still becoming. However, I can say for certain — in all my travels, within and without — my biggest teachers are my two beautiful, wonderful, intelligent knuckleheads I have the privilege of calling my sons.
I always tell parents that raising children is the most organic experience there is. You can never get ahead of the curve because you don’t know where the curve is. It’s a journey of growth for everyone and that growth starts from within. We all think we understand the concept of patience, tolerance, love, joy at some point in life. What I have come to learn — and be very humbled by — is the reality that patience is a concept greater than I could possibly imagine. I know what you’re thinking, being patient with children while they develop, learn, break shit, etc., right? Yes, that part too. But, I’ve learned more than anything is how to be patient with myself. Being a mother has taught me, among many things, that I have to display the same compassion and grace towards myself in order to effectively lend it to my children.
I gave birth to my first son in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (West Africa) 7 years ago. Life in Africa is an amazing experience. So amazing, in fact, that after returning to the West, I still find it difficult to identify what I’ve grown to value as “normal.” Anyhoo, living there is a simple life based on community, cleanliness, structure, and harmony among everyone. We all support one another and we all contribute to the whole. For example, when we wake up in the morning, everyone has his/her chores to do. We lived in a big house so the spaces to clean were large. Every morning I would wake up at 4:30 am, brush my teeth, wash my face, hand wash my clothes and put on my lapa (traditional fabric wrapped around the waist to resemble a skirt) to sweep the courtyard. During this time my son was either asleep or, worn on my back. Then, it was time to shower, and prepare for my baby’s healing bath before breakfast and the rest of the day. After the bath, breakfast, and preparing lunch for the family, it was time to spend a few hours by myself before getting dinner started. In my downtime, I would keep my space clean. Our room was large with an en suite, so it took a good while to clean. Back home we don’t use modern mops, we use a bucket with soapy water and a towel to wash the floors by hand after cleaning the room.
I had just finished cleaning one afternoon when my son came wobbling into the room on legs he was still trying to master. At that age, it’s normal and expected for children to be curious and get into whatever you don’t want them to. I simply remember hearing something fall and seeing my 2 lb container of melted shea butter oozing onto the floor. As I stood there and watched it pool behind all the things that I would need help lifting, I remember feeling defeated and angry at the same time. Defeated because I had just spent the entire day working and shea butter is NOT easy to clean up. Angry because in my mind I had prepared everything in order to have a moment to rest. I planned my days from start to finish so that I can stay “ahead of the curve” and be prepared for what was next. I knew when I’d finish cleaning and cooking, and when I’d have a window to rest for a few hours. Having to clean up this mess wasn’t about my child doing anything wrong. It was a moment of me contending with the idea that I actually had control over anything while there is this unpredictable force in my life. It’s then I realized that my idea of control had to shift from what I thought was outside of me, to what needed to be controlled inside of me. No matter how long it took to clean up that mess (OMG it took so long….), it was a powerful lesson for me in the value of being patient with myself even when unpredictable things or things beyond my control inevitably happened.
At the time, I had to look at myself and see that my perception of accomplishment, or advancement, had much less to do with my environment and much more to do with who/what I was in that environment. In a world where we control very little, the one person we do have the power to navigate is ourselves.
It’s lessons like this that my children continue to ignite in me. The uphill journey of human growth and development can’t fully be experienced without a mirror. It takes something or someone to remove the veil between who you are today and the person you wish to evolve into tomorrow.
Human beings tend to be generous in their self-perceptions. But when you are responsible for another human being’s survival, when you are a vital part of your community and don’t have the option to live in isolation, sequestered in front of your favorite screen, you can learn more about yourself by seeing the effect you have on your environment. If we’re not striving each day to be the best version of ourselves that we possibly can be, then what and why are we living? Wishing everyone the courage, patience, and grace to look inward and strive to be a better person today than they were yesterday. Happy uphill journeying!
– Menzeba Hasati
You can contact Menzeba via email at or visit her website.